In the “New Concerns Over Cottage” note that appeared in The Bognor Regis Post on 20 February, Peter Johns, Treasurer of The Blake Cottage Trust, and responsible for the financial reports about Blake’s cottage that show a worrying degree of contempt for truth, is quoted saying that now that the architects’ plans for the projected visitor centre have been finalised, “we can go to potential funders to show them that this is a real project and that is what we intend to do”.
That is an extraordinary thing to say. The Blake Cottage Trust has had since September 2015 to show not only to potential funders, but to the public, that theirs is a real project, and they have failed miserably. What they have achieved is rather to allow the cottage to go into an appalling state of further disrepair. Visitors during their open days coinciding with the Petworth exhibition could see by themselves the cottage’s heartbreaking state of ruin and decay.
I have given a timeline earlier in this blog about the Blake Cottage Trust’s actions and, mostly, inaction during these past years. In fact, for around a year since the purchase of the cottage they didn’t even deign to communicate to the public at all what their plans for the building were. I find it a bit too late for them to try to show that theirs is a real project, two years and five months after the purchase, and with the building in such a dire state.
We do know that they never honoured what was promised to the public during the 2014 campaign: that a large consortium of accountable organisations and individuals would be created to take care of the cottage and honour the trust put in the Blake Society, who created and ran the public appeal, along with the Big Blake Project.
If such a consortium had been created, as I have said many times before, the necessary funds would have been raised a long time ago and the cottage would have now been repaired. The fund-raising should have continued immediately after the purchase, with all the members of the consortium contributing their expertise and their skills and, most importantly, making sure that everybody involved was accountable.
Instead, the cottage and the whole project were hijacked by three ambitious but incompetent men who have squandered their energies in lying to the public, bullying and intimidating any one who dares to challenge them, who have proved to be utterly unscrupulous and utterly incapable to take care of the building.
They have lied to everybody continually and systematically: recently I found their statements to the Felpham Village Conservation Society in 2016, a concoction of falsehoods that the FVCS, if their minutes are anything to go by, swallowed like a child.
It’s about time that the public calls these men to task, before the cottage collapses completely.